National environmental leaders will take out ad space in the New York Times, and Times Union tomorrow to publish their an open letter to Eliot Spitzer and lawmakers urging them to support Mike Bloomberg’s 2030 plan.
“Gridlock contributes to smog and acts as a brake on economic growth. Business as usual is not a plan for the future, especially for a city that is expected to grow by nearly a million people in the next twenty years,” says the letter, written by the heads of the Environmental Defense, Sierra Club and Natural Resource Defense Fund.
“Mayor Bloomberg’s plan is bold, to be sure. But it’s also achievable. It could serve as a model for cities across the country and throughout the world.”
The letter concludes: “The next step is for leaders in the state legislature, city council and the metropolitan region to take the proposed plan and turn it into reality. Before it’s too late.”
Which is sort of an echo of today’s Daily News editorial.
The full letter is after the jump.
An Open Letter To Governor Spitzer and Leaders in the
New York State Senate and Assembly
Leaders from the world’s largest cities – from Berlin to Beijing – recently convened in New York to share strategies for how best to fight global warming. This was more than a feel-good exercise: Cities are responsible for seventy-five percent of the world’s global warming pollution. It is in these growing metropolitan complexes that transportation, construction, land use and pollution issues are most acute and the opportunities for dramatic gains the largest. And no municipality on earth is stepping up more audaciously than New York City.
New York State has helped the city set the stage by adopting low-emission vehicle standards from California and leading its neighbors in a bipartisan nine-state cap on global warming pollution from power plants. Albany also adopted a renewable portfolio standard to promote clean, renewable energy sources and Governor Spitzer recently announced plans to cut statewide energy consumption 15 percent by 2015.
Now, state leaders have an opportunity to advance one of the most aggressive climate protection goals of any U.S. city. On Earth Day, Mayor Bloomberg unveiled an ambitious plan to fight global warming by cutting greenhouse gas pollution 30 percent by 2030. He laid out a practical vision for what he calls “a greener, greater New York.” The blueprint covers some 127 proposals, ranging from making buildings more energy efficient to reducing traffic pollution, building cleaner power plants and converting abandoned industrial sites into parks.
The health and vitality of New York City hinge on a cleaner, safe environment and an advanced, more efficient energy system. The city's childhood hospitalization rates are twice the national average, its aging electricity grid threatens blackouts in the peak summer heat, and riding a bus or a cab through midtown traffic is scarcely faster than walking. Gridlock contributes to smog and acts as a brake on economic growth. Business as usual is not a plan for the future, especially for a city that is expected to grow by nearly a million people in the next twenty years.
New York’s new sustainability plan, dubbed PlaNYC, will achieve its ambitious climate targets through renewed investment in clean energy, improved efficiency and expanded public transit. Revised building codes will bring the country’s greenest building technologies to New York. The city’s fleet of diesel school buses will be replaced or modernized and incentives put in place to get heavy diesel trucks off the road.
Some elements are controversial, particularly the proposal for congestion pricing. But this innovative idea would use tolls to cut traffic at peak times and help finance a new generation of transit. Similar systems are in place in the business districts of London and Singapore, where they’ve reduced traffic and improved air quality.
Mayor Bloomberg’s plan is bold, to be sure. But it’s also achievable. It could serve as a model for cities across the country and throughout the world. In crafting the plan, New York City officials did their homework, meeting with and listening to community members and oceanographers, transportation experts and ecologists, biologists and businessmen. They all realize that global warming is also local warming.
What’s good for the city will be good for the state and for the planet. State legislators need to set aside their differences, roll up their sleeves and find solutions. That’s what environmental and business leaders have done in jointly endorsing the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, the groundbreaking alliance of Fortune 500 companies now pressing for nationwide reduction in heat-trapping emissions. And that's what happened in Kansas City and Springfield, Illinois where local power companies reached agreements with the Sierra Club and other environmental groups to offset carbon emissions from new power plants by investing in energy efficiency and renewable wind power. The problem of global warming is urgent and it must be addressed at all levels.
Plans like the one proposed by New York City show the kind of leadership that the country needs to tackle global warming. The next step is for leaders in the state legislature, city council and the metropolitan region to take the proposed plan and turn it into reality. Before it’s too late.
Fred Krupp, President, Environmental Defense
Carl Pope, Executive Director, Sierra Club
Frances Beinecke, President, Natural Resources Defense Council
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